Welcome back! This episode finds Claire and Jamie cozying up to French high society in the beginning stages of their efforts to thwart the Jacobite rebellion from the inside.
Wow, straight to the action! We open on Jamie and Claire making love. It’s characteristically steamy until Jamie sees Claire morph into Black Jack Randall beneath him. Jamie freaks and stabs him to death, then wakes up in a cold sweat. It was just a nightmare! One of the things I enjoy about Outlander is that they don’t gloss over the aftermath of sexual assault. Jamie’s recovery has been incremental, and he’s far from healed from his ordeal. Claire reassures him that Randall is dead, and promises that in time, his nightmares will fade.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
Claire visits Monsieur Raymond, the diminutive local apothecary, in search of a potion to help Jamie sleep at night. The two bond over their knowledge of herbs and Claire discovers that Mr. Raymond knows exactly who she is, having heard about her involvement in the burning of the Count’s contaminated ship. Claire is embarrassed, but Mr. Raymond assures her that he can’t stand the count, and therefore is pretty okay with Claire.
I enjoyed Claire’s internal marveling over 1744 Paris at this point. She notes that in forty years, the beautiful streets will run with rivers of blood during the French Revolution. She recalls that the last time she was in Paris, it was at the end of WW2, and that she’d intended to climb the Eiffel Tower, but that it hadn’t reopened since the Nazis had closed it during the occupation. Now she’s in Paris, 100 years before the Eiffel Tower exists.
Arses and armpits
Meanwhile, Murtagh and Jamie are scandalizing the high society muckety-mucks by practicing their sword fighting skills in the public courtyard. Murtagh hates France, and can’t resist a dig about how the whole city smells. He scatters the looky-loos by threatening to “cut their balls off”, then tells Jamie that they could stop the revolution a whole lot more quickly if they just kill Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his father too, if they have to. Jamie reminds him that missing Scotland doesn’t justify a double murder – of a prince and king, no less.
Dildos for sale or rent
Jamie receives a letter from his cousin Jared, who has arranged for Jamie to meet with Prince Charlie himself in a Paris brothel, of all places. Jamie and Murtagh turn up, and the Prince is kind of a pervy little dude. As the madam visits the tables offering dildos (for sale or rent, ughhh), the Prince quizzes Jamie about the Scots’ readiness to rebel. Jamie tells him that the Scots aren’t ready, and may never be. “The clans canna agree on so much as the color of the sky.” The Prince chastises him for his defeatist talk, and then Murtagh speaks up with a similar, if less eloquent statement. He doesn’t think that “putting a more sympathetic arse on the throne” is enough to get Scots to leave their lives and farms and run into cannon fire.
Jamie assures Prince Charlie that he hates the English as much as the next guy, but the Prince is pretty steamed and goes a little creepy God-complex on them.“It is God’s will that I unite the clans!” It becomes apparent that he’s a little nuts, and Jamie recognizes that if he plans to stop the rebellion, he’s barking up the wrong tree with the Prince. The next step is the Minister of Finance, whom Jamie hopes he’ll be able to convince not to bankroll the rebel army. After all, wars cost money. As luck would have it, the Prince is convinced of Jamie’s loyalty to the cause and tells him that he’s not “officially” in the country and therefore can’t visit with the Minister of Finance, but that Jamie can on his behalf. “Be my advocate for the rebellion.” What luck! Jamie agrees, and the Prince disappears with one of the many ladies of the evening on offer. “Not too late to slit his throat,” Murtagh growls.
“You’re a dirty woman, Sassenach…”
Claire decides that the best way to get invited to court and procure a chat with the Minister of Finance will be to wangle an invitation from her new friend, Louise de La Tour de Rohan. Louise is a spoiled, petulant society wife, but she’s also a complete character. As Claire visits with her, she’s having her legs waxed by a servant, whom she smacks every time he rips the wax off. Louise calls in Mary Hawkins, a young English girl she is chaperoning through Paris at the behest of the girl’s uncle as she awaits her dreaded arranged marriage. Claire muses that her name is familiar. Spoiler: She feels that way for a reason. Louise is practically nude in this scene to begin with but laughs heartily when Claire and Mary are scandalized as she casually spreads her legs for the waxer. “Didn’t anyone tell you? A hairless mound is de rigeur.” Louise agrees to take them both to court at Versailles, and even hook Claire up with a dressmaker. Claire brightens. “Maybe I could bring my husband?” “If you must,” Louise smirks, “but you’d have more fun without him.”
In a scene we don’t see, Claire was apparently not to be outdone by Louise. When she slips into bed with Jamie at the end of the day, she guides his hand southward until…“your honey pot! It’s bare!” Jamie is surprised and intrigued, and they finally make love for real, but he is still haunted by images of Randall.
“First your honey pot; now this!”
Two weeks later, it’s time to go to court, and Claire dons a stunner of a red dress for the occasion. Jamie pretends to hate how revealing it is. Your lips are saying no, but your eyes are saying “hell to the yes,” Jamie.
Only in France
Claire, Jamie, Louise, and Mary arrive at court, and Jamie immediately runs into Annaliese, who makes it fairly clear that she and Jamie were romantically involved in the past. She offers to take Jamie to witness the dressing of the King; a male-only affair. “Well, I wouldn’t want him to miss that,” Claire says, tight-lipped. Annaliese whisks Jamie off, and Claire flags Murtagh down and sends him after them. Claire explains that it’s the dressing of the King. “Wouldn’t want to miss that,” Murtagh scoffs. The king is, ahem, attending to the call of nature when they enter his chamber. In front of dozens of male courtiers. He appears to be having some difficulty getting the job done, and the gathered men are clucking with concern. King Louis XV, or at least the man playing him, is such a dramatic pooper that I fear he will give himself hemorrhoids. Jamie adorably gives him some advice about constipation: “Eat porridge.”
“I told you that dress would bring us grief!”
Meanwhile, Claire is dealing with the Parisian equivalent of mean girls. After one of them slickly asks her “And what do English ladies call a male member?” Claire stammers “Ah, I’ve heard it referred to as…Peter.” As the ladies titter derisively, Claire offers timidly “Prick?” Recognizing the futility of the discussion, Claire excuses herself to take some air on the balcony. Louise, who knows the Minister of Finance, Robert Duverney, takes the opportunity to send him after Claire so that they can chat.
Duverney, however, arrives on the scene with a boisterous “Lady Broch Tuarach, your prayers have been answered!” He obviously thinks she’s DTF, and Claire stammers and tries to explain as he literally kisses her feet. He’s so over the top about it; I couldn’t help but think of Pepe Le Pew. Jamie arrives and shoves him off of the balcony, where he tumbles down an embankment into a pond. The scene was fantastic – Jamie doesn’t even look until he hears a splash. Claire explains to Jamie who he is, and they fish him out of the pond and make nice.
“Your friendship is service enough…”
Jamie is magnanimous towards Duverney after his embarrassing incident with Claire, and the three talk near the fire, where the Minister of Finance attempts to dry his ridiculous wig. King Louis happens by, and Duverney stuffs the ratty, sodden wig on his head, looking like David Lee Roth. Louis chastises Duverney for making a spectacle of himself, acknowledges Jamie, and gives Claire a look I couldn’t place. To me, it was a “bitch, please” look, and to my husband, it was a constipated leer. Murtagh, for his part, ogles a lady accompanying the King, who is wearing even less than Claire.
Meanwhile, the two run into their old friend the Duke of Sandringham, who is sour when he realizes that Claire and Jamie haven’t forgiven him for his last season’s transgressions. Jamie continues the magnanimous schtick and tells the Duke “what’s done is done,” and excuses himself to enjoy the fireworks. Claire is not so forgiving, and the Duke insults her. Not to be outdone, she accuses him of being a traitor to the English crown, and the Duke unwittingly drops a bomb – Black Jack Randall isn’t really dead. In fact, his baby brother is working as my secretary. Say what? Claire is horrified.
- How adorable does Jamie look in his nightdress? I mean, ideally, he’d be sleeping au natural, but I’ll take what I can get.
- I’m having a slightly difficult time believing that Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh’s French is all that passable. Claire’s, maybe, but Jamie and Murtagh are 18th-century Highlanders who aren’t particularly well-traveled. Perhaps the show will touch on their education at some point and explain why they all seem to parle Francais.
- Murtagh was the real MVP of this episode, with tons of quotable lines. I loved the bit when he reminisced about Scotland and how he even missed his dimwitted sidekicks, Rupert and Angus. (“Lardbucket” and “big-head”, according to Murtagh.) He’s also baffled by being in the wine business. “Wine is for drinking, not selling.” Damn straight, Murtagh.
- The costumes! The sets! All were so beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the apothecary shop in this episode.
Join me next week for Episode 3, “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”, whereupon Jamie and Claire continue their infiltration of French high society.